My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
~Psalm 51:17 New International Version (NIV)~
Some days I ask myself, “What is still broken?” I should be happy, but sometimes I’m struggling. Of course, at my core, I know that I am blessed beyond all that I could have imagined, but there are days when my greatest fear overtakes me and all I can think of is, “What if I am never able to bring all that He has put into me to fruition?”
The devil works diligently to convince us that we are not enough and he has been working overtime trying to convince me that in spite of all that I’ve been able to do, and all that I’ve overcome, I’m still nothing. The truth is, he’s right. I am nothing. But not in the way he would like me to think. I am nothing because He (God) is everything and the only way that I can ever be anything is to allow Him to work through me. The more reluctant I am to allow Him to work through me, the more nothing I become. No matter how “good” I’m trying to be.
I look back over the wreckage in my life; I see years of pain over childhood hurts, being molested, surviving a rape, losing five babies, a broken marriage, an ongoing struggle to keep my daughter safe, and inner turmoil that pulls me toward following my path and away from clinging to the path that has worn me down. In all of these things, the one component that seems to have kept me from falling completely apart is that God was watching over me and checking my responses to these trials. As I moved past these things, it was Him who gave me the strength to look at these awful things as a source of strength and not as areas of weakness. But even after I had come through them, there was still something missing. At those times, I hadn’t completely surrendered to Him. I hadn’t even completely acknowledged Him in my life and until I did, I never had any peace to go with the healing.
By the world’s standards, I live an average life. I have an average job. I live in an average apartment. I drive an average car. By my own standards, I feel that I have a great life in terms of those things, but I know that I am missing the mark in some very big ways. Like hearing God when He tells me to move or being obedient when He tells me that I’ve gone in the wrong direction. I know that I could do so much better if I’d only trust Him completely. After all that I’ve given Him to repair, I feel somewhat sheepish about returning to the shop with one more request. But I don’t know what else to do. I do know that if anyone can fix it, He can. So my reluctance to take whatever it is back to Him is the only thing that stands in the way of that victory.
As Christians, we want to believe that once we “sign up” to follow Christ, everything will magically fall into place and we’ll never feel broken again. That simply isn’t how it works. In my heart of hearts, I know that the reason I am still feeling like something isn’t working is because I’m only about 95% of the way surrendered. I love God with all my heart and I would never want to do anything to grieve His Spirit, but there is something in my nature that won’t allow me to just let go.
The sad reality is that sometimes the thing we refuse to let go of is actually the only thing that is keeping us from stepping into the victory that He has for us. Sometimes He wants us to see things from the opposite side of the spectrum so that we can fully understand the task in front of us. But if we allow our stubbornness to block our view, we will never know whether or not the steps we are taking are moving us toward or away from the ultimate goal He has set for us. It could be that I’ve been staring at the wrong end of the horse, so to speak, and my outlook is now stuck on the limitations of that perspective, if that makes sense. For example, if I believe that the only way to attack an issue lies in what we take in instead of what we get rid of, then my focus will always be on gathering things to put in the pot. But what if the answer is in the purging?
I realize that this post is all over the place. My heart and mind have been so burdened by what I have needed to do that I have failed to take the time to consider what I shouldn’t do. As I write this, I’m making some big decisions regarding my women’s ministry. The focus had been on building women up and helping them to make good choices, however, I’m seeing now that what I need to be doing first is to help them to get rid of the things in their lives that are keeping them from seeing their options clearly. I’ve had to come to a point of almost giving up in order to see the whole picture clearly. Once I stripped away my own hang-ups and expectations, I had a revelation that maybe what I need to let go of has nothing to do with the ministry but with the things that are getting in the way of doing ministry.
I started out by saying that even though I have done a great deal of healing, I still feel broken somewhere inside. This is true. But the reality is that we are works in progress. We will never be perfect. We will never get to a point where we don’t need Jesus. We will get to a place where we doubt, where we fear or where we question whether or not any of what we are doing makes sense. The devil makes sure of that. It is in his best interests to keep us in a state of confusion, or a state of fear, or to instill doubt in us. He wants to keep us wondering whether or not we should trust God. He wants us to give up. And in many cases, he succeeds. We get weary and we decide that it just isn’t worth the struggle. We set aside the things which God has called us to do and we move forward in hopes that we can live a life that is just good enough to keep us from going to hell instead of living a life that brings victory to others instead of just to ourselves. I’ll tell you a secret, though. If the only victory you seek in this life is for yourself, then you have already accepted defeat.
My inclination in the past had been to shrink back and let the more dynamic types step out and do the real fighting. I was happy being in the background and doing the little things to help out. I was perfectly happy tiptoeing along the outside of the conflict and very quietly throwing my opinion into the ring as I hurried by. But the more time that passes, the more I see that the need for God’s people to speak loudly and step boldly is greater than ever before. I had been looking at the problem from the outside; failing to acknowledge that at one point in my life God had pulled me from the very center of that pit so that I could one day help others who found themselves caught in the same circumstance. Once I was out, it was as though I tried to forget that I was ever there…or at least tried to convince myself that having gone through it wasn’t actually the source of my strength, but an indicator of a weakness that I had to let go of in order to be more like my God. I missed the point that without having had the experience, I would be in no way qualified to help anyone else understand it or overcome it.
And so, to have any strength at all, I have to embrace the weakness that once crippled me and show people what it looks like from the other side. Yes, there is still something broken. If there wasn’t, I would have no desire to fix what is wrong. If there weren’t problems, I would have no reason to reach out to others. If there weren’t opportunities for improvement, I would have no personal example of God’s love to show. Even though we all have the ultimate example in Christ’s sacrifice. The function of light is to bring visibility. But you can’t see the difference if there is no darkness to overcome. I’m not saying that we need to be happy when things go wrong; but we do need to understand that darkness and brokenness are our opportunity to show light and healing to this world. We need to be passionate about declaring those truths and we need not see them as deficiencies in our character. The broken parts make up the whole and God seals them with His love, grace, and mercy. It is our job to show others what brokenness can become.
God bless you!